RPDR alum Ginger Minj, 'Golden Gals' headline Golden-Con, March 31

Tue. March 7, 2023 8:11 AM by Ross Forman

the golden gals live!

photo credit // provided

'Golden Girls' fan convention to feature sitcom producers, guest stars, and drag performances

Get ready for a tasty splash of RuPaul’s Drag Race at the second-annual Golden-Con, the 3-day fan convention that organizers boast as ‘The world’s largest event for Golden Girls fans.’

RPDR alum Ginger Minj brings her version of sex-positive southern belle Blanche Deveraux to Golden-Con. Minj’s all-drag parody, “The Golden Gals Live!” plays the opening and closing nights at Golden-Con: Thank You For Being a Fan, which kicks off on Friday, March 31, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk (301 E. North Water Street).

“We’re packing up our cheesecake and coming back to Chicago for Golden-Con so we can show the world’s biggest Golden Girls fans how much we love Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia,” Minj says. “The Golden Girls have been getting the live drag parody treatment on stage since the 1980s when gay bars would stop everything to play new episodes of the show on Saturday nights.”

Minj was the runner-up on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2015, and has appeared on RPDR in 2016, 2019 and 2021. She also has acted in three Netflix productions, including the comedy feature film Dumplin’ (2018).

Minj appeared in the 2022 film Hocus Pocus 2, the sequel to Hocus Pocus, and has released three studio albums, including two in 2021.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Minj will attend Golden-Con, said event co-producer Brendan Balof. “We are knee-deep in ‘Golden Girls’ geekery already, so adding some comedy — and “The Golden Gals Live!” is straight up hilarious — is definitely in order.”

Golden-Con co-producer Bradley Balof said they received an email from the manager for “The Golden Gals Live!” and within a week, they struck a deal for Minj to appear. “They’re just as eager as we are for them to perform in front of the world’s biggest ‘Golden Girls’ fans,” Bradley Balof said.

There will be no shortage of drag entertainers on stage at Golden-Con, including shows and appearances from New York-based The Golden Gays, Chicago’s Hell In A Handbag

Productions, and “Golden Girls” podcast host H. Alan Scott, who developed a Sadie Pines drag

persona during 2020 lockdown periods.

“The Golden Gals Live!” will be on stage at Golden-Con Friday night, March 31, and Sunday afternoon April 2. Ginger Minj as Blanche of The Golden Gals will be joined by Divine Grace as Dorothy; MR MS Adrien as Sophia; and Gidget Galore as Rose.

Minj has been writing, producing and directing “The Golden Gals Live!” since 2018.

“She’s as much of a Golden Girls fan as anyone who’s going to be at Golden-Con. And “The Golden Gals Live!” is, in Ginger’s own words, ‘a loving tribute to the original show," said Golden-Con co-producer Zack Hudson. “The Golden Gals team just finished a month run at the Mercury Theatre. Now they’re writing a new, exclusive show just for Golden-Con audiences.

“I can’t stress enough how easy these folks have been to work with. They don’t want a lot of extra stuff and they’re not putting us through the wringer with demands and expense. They’re doing this show at Golden-Con because they love The Golden Girls as much as we do and they want to be a part of the biggest “Golden Girls” fan event in the world.

“It’s a big deal to be able to present an entertainer like Ginger Minj, known around the world (as) a talented and hilarious performer.”

Bradley Balof added: “We definitely felt a rush as we were hammering out the final details and then getting ready to announce “The Golden Gals Live!” as our special guest entertainers. It’s exciting to be connected to ‘Drag Race,’ but the reason we made efforts to get Ginger Minj on stage at Golden-Con is because she’s a real fan of ‘The Golden Girls.’

“When we began trying to put Golden-Con together, we made a small attempt at trying to lure RuPaul to join us, even if it was just for one day because RuPaul has said many times how much he loves ‘The Golden Girls.’ That hasn’t happened … yet.”

Drag is a natural fit at Golden-Con. “Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia are characters who are just begging for drag interpretations,” said Brendan Balof. And, “drag is one of the elements that has kept ‘The Golden Girls’ rolling into this current wave of popularity. Drag performers have been staging parody ‘Golden Girls’ shows for decades.”

Case in point, Chicago’s Hell in a Handbag Productions has delivered “The Lost Episodes” for years. Greg Morris started playing drag versions of ‘The Golden Girls’ on stage in 2007.

The Golden Gays are a talented musical variety troupe that crisscrosses the country bringing their “Golden Girls” show. “As long as it’s good drag and is inspired by our Golden Girls, why not?” Brendan Balof said.

Golden-Con has many other stars appearing, including Terry Hughes, Winifred Hervey, Gail Parent, Jamie Wooten and Wayne Williams.

Terry Hughes is known among people who write about “The Golden Girls” as ‘the fifth Golden Girl’ because Rue McClanahan called him that from the Emmy podium when she won, said Bradley Balor. Hughes directed 108 episodes of the show and a lot of people give him credit for cementing the comedy framework that Susan Harris, the creator, laid out, Bradley Balof added.

Winifred Hervey has more “Golden Girls” IMDb writing credits than anyone aside from Susan Harris. 

“Jamie Wooten is currently one of the most successful playwrights in the world. But he spent a few decades writing and producing TV shows. ‘The Golden Girls’ was a huge break for him. Plus, he’s a fan of the show and he loves it as much as some of us do,” Bradley Balof said. “Wayne Williams is a fantastic photographer who had the chance to photograph all the Golden Girls on set and off. He will give us a glimpse at some behind-the-scenes (photos) – on set, off set and all places in between.”

Golden-Con also will feature some new art pieces that, no doubt, will be perfect for social media.

“Many will remember the fantastic rattan purse and the intricately-detailed Henny Penny installation — both created by Chicago artist Kevin Byrne — from the (2022 convention),” Hudson said. “We’ve got more huge jokes from the show that are being transformed into works of Instagram art.”

The convention also will feature an appearance by Isabel Omero, “who insiders tell us worked as closely with the four stars of (the show) as anyone else,” Hudson said. “Isabel worked all seven seasons of the show as a script supervisor and production associate. We’re dying to hear what she has to (say).

Cindy Fee and Aaron Scott will be back for round two, organizers confirmed.

“One of the moments that sticks out in my mind from the (2022 convention) was when Cindy Fee, the original ‘Thank You For Being A Friend’ theme song vocalist, took the main stage with Aaron Scott, whose gospel duet with Cindy Fee’s voice-over the show credits has gone mega viral five or six times now. We kept them a secret from the fans last year and then brought them out to perform and you could hear an actual gasp from the crowd.

“I can’t wait to hear them sing (again).”

Golden-Con: Thank You For Being A Fan

March 31-April 2, 2023

Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk, 301 E North Water